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How The NFL Is Going Hard On Shaking Up An Annual NBA Tradition

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
(Image credit: Andy Lyons / Staff)

When you’re an NBA fan like myself, there are certain traditions that you come to look forward to during a given season. These include the annual All-Star Weekend, which takes place in February, and the (highly celebrated) Finals, which close things out in the summer. Of course, there’s also Christmas Day, during which the league presents fans with several games. It’s a glorious feeling to enjoy family, food and yes, gifts while watching the best players in basketball hit sweet buzzer beaters and perform powerful dunks. But interestingly enough, it looks like the NFL is going hard on shaking up that yuletide routine a bit. 

The NFL does already have a presence on Christmas, as there are typically a pair of games that air on the day. However, that’s relatively tame compared to the five NBA games that air throughout the holiday. Now, NFL VP of Broadcasting Mike North has explained that the football league is aiming to air three games in strategically place timeslots: 

Then when we get to Sunday, Christmas Day, we’ll have a triple-header. We’ll play one game on CBS in the afternoon, one game on Fox in the afternoon, and our regular Sunday night game on NBC.

The National Football League really does seem to have the bases covered when it comes to the holiday. The two afternoon games are particularly interesting as that’s when some of the meatier basketball games take place. Of course, the late NBA games are usually major matchups as well. And based on the comments Mike North made during his appearance on the SalSports…and Stuff podcast, he’s not too concerned about the competition:

Christmas, when it falls on an NFL game day, we’ve had a lot of success there — with all due respect to our friends at the NBA. … Our fans are telling us that we know they watch on Thanksgiving, they’re happy to watch on Christmas, too.

One has to wonder how these new scheduling moves will affect the NBA moving forward. Though the basketball league has seen low ratings at some points over the past several years, things have been mostly solid these days. The 2021-2022 season has been somewhat mixed, yet Christmas Day reportedly yielded great returns. Overall, the company is thriving and delivering quality games, despite COVID setbacks (and the occasional unruly fan).

On the other hand, the NFL remains a ratings powerhouse. Fortune reports that the 2021 season’s 272 regular-season games averaged 17.1 million viewers, numbers recorded across both television and digital platforms. Not only that but, per Nielsen, National Football League games apparently accounted for 91 of the top 100 telecasts. So yeah, the entertainment entity is a force to be reckoned with. 

We’ll just have to wait and see how things pan out later this year. What can be said now, though, is that those who favor one league over the other are likely going to make that favorite a priority. But if you happen to be a follower of both the NFL and the NBA, you may have some tough programming choices to make on Christmas. 

At present, you can enjoy the NBA postseason and, if you’re feeling nostalgic, check out some iconic playoff games that are available on League Pass.

Erik Swann
Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.